It will be seen, therefore, from what I have said, that, in addition to its importance, it is by no means an easy matter to get the right man in the right place; but that is no reason why the wrong man should be put in the wrong place. But when once the right man is got he is an invaluable servant to the company, and he will deserve to be paid a high salary. But some directors think that a moderate salary is quite good enough for a mine-manager, and thus they get only the limited ability for which they pay. Moreover, to pay him a good salary will go a long way to place him beyond the reach of temptation, or when temptation comes will enable him the more successfully to resist it. For some of the most eminent men in the mining profession have succumbed to temptation, and there are many at this moment, who loom largely in the public eye, whose words are taken for gospel, whose opinions have the greatest influence, yet who have been responsible for the flotation of many worthless properties. Yet their reputation is as high as ever, and their names attached to any report, or appearing in any prospectus, will insure the success of that company, so dazzled are the public by their names, and so forgetful are they of their many past failures. It was not because ability failed these men in the past, but their morality, which the public do not know, but which they could easily learn if they used their intelligence and reason. So, when the best men fail us in this fashion - and their methods are subtle and not easy of detection - no wonder a man of strict integrity is invaluable. The pity is that it is so difficult to find him, and when he is found every effort is made to corrupt him, and if he is incorruptible then he may not be appreciated, and on some trivial pretext or other his services may be dispensed with. Or he may himself get thoroughly disgusted at the treatment he receives from the directors, and may thus leave at the expiration of his agreement.
The very best class of mine-manager is found on the Rand, and the results are seen in the marvellous success which has attended mining operations on this small and far from rich gold-field. It would be a splendid thing, therefore, for the mining industry if the directors and shareholders of mining companies would follow the excellent example here set them, for undoubtedly the list of successful mines would be added to. Western Australia, on the other hand, has a bad repute, for we have witnessed in this colony during the past seven years more dishonest management than has been the experience, probably, of any other gold-field of its size in the world. When the eminent German expert, Herr Schmeisser, visited the colony, he had a most unpleasant tale to tell us of the class of men he found in charge of mines, and whose services had been requisitioned to report upon worthless properties for the benefit of the British capitalist. Do investors and speculators intend any longer to tolerate this state of things? If it had not been for these dishonest and disreputable men, both in London and in the colony, would we have had all those scandals which have recently disgraced West Australian mining and made it a by-word of reproach? Of course not. Think of the millions which guileless investors have sunk in the industry, and which have been as irretrievably lost to them as if they had thrown the money in the Atlantic Ocean.
Who are the individuals who have benefited from these scandals and this dishonesty? Not the speculator. He has speculated to his cost, especially when he has found those shares which he bought, say, at £10 suddenly fall to £3 through the dishonest management of a good mine. Who hears of Klondyke in these days? We seem to have forgotten its existence. And yet how many hundreds of glowing reports were written by M.E.'s and others, who pocketed their fees and have never since been heard of! Will the experience be repeated in the case of West Africa? I am afraid so.